Rodgers faces his toughest Celtic test in Rotterdam

Rodgers faces toughest test to date…

Celtic v Dundee – cinch Premiership – Celtic Park Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers on the pitch after the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park,  Saturday September 16, 2023. Photo Andrew Milligan

Seven years ago, Brendan Rodgers took his Celtic side to Barcelona for his first taste of UEFA Champions League group stage action. Four wins from four in the league and 15 goals scored had given Celtic fans hope of a famous result at the Camp Nou.

This hope was quickly dashed as a certain Lionel Messi put the Catalan side ahead after just three minutes and his Barcelona side would go on to inflict a humiliating 7-0 defeat of Rodgers side.

UTRECHT, 16Ã09-2023, Stadium Feijenoord / De Kuip , Dutch Eredivisie , season 2023 / 2024, Feyenoord – SC Heerenveen , result 6-1 , Feyenoord player Ondrej Lingr Feyenoord – Heerenveen

Celtic face a much more reasonable task next Tuesday in their opening game of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League as they head to Rotterdam, yet it is a task that will test Rodgers new look Celtic side to the limit.

A trip to Ibrox to face a dysfunctional theRangers is the biggest test Rodgers has faced so far this season, but that is about to change now that the Champions League is here. And on Tuesday evening Arne Slots Feyenoord will pose a much sterner challenge if PSV’s 7-3 dismantling of theRangers is anything to go by.

UTRECHT, 16Ã09-2023, Stadium Feijenoord / De Kuip , Dutch Eredivisie , season 2023 / 2024, Feyenoord – SC Heerenveen , result 6-1 , Feyenoord goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther and Feyenoord player Alireza Jahanbakhsh r Feyenoord – Heerenveen

In terms of team selection, it is a tale of misfortune in key positions for both Celtic and Feyenoord. Celtic’s centre half crisis is well documented, Maik Nawrocki, Cameron Carter Vickers and Stephen Welsh will all miss the game on Tuesday.

Moving to the other end of the pitch, Feyenoord have problems of their own. Mexican international Santiago Gimenez will miss the opening two fixtures in the Champions League due to suspension, which is certainly good news for Celtic with the 22 year old netting six goals in five league games so far this season.

£7million  signing Ayase Ueda was the obvious choice to replace Gimenez, but he picked up and injury on international duty with Japan earlier this week. Feyenoord will most likely start with an unrecognised striker on Tuesday, but it’s Arne Slots wingers who pose the biggest threat to Celtic.

Celtic v Dundee – cinch Premiership – Callum McGregor applauds the fans after the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park on: Saturday September 16, 2023. Photo Andrew Milligan

Luka Ivanusec and Brazilian Igor Paixao will likely start in Rotterdam next week. Both players scored in Feyenoord’s 6-1 trashing of SC Heerenveen on Saturday. Calvin Stengs is another creative spark Rodgers must look out for. Once tipped for greatness at a young age, Stengs has moved back to his homeland in search of revitalising his career. One goal and four assists in five league games is certainly a start in doing so.

Celtic v Dundee – cinch Premiership – Matt O Riley is congratulated by Kyogo Furuhashi after scoring the third goal of the game during the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park on Saturday September 16, 2023.Photo Andrew Milligan

The midfield battle will be crucial. McGregor, O’Riley and Hatate is clearly Celtic’s best midfield and could cause problems for an all Dutch Feyenoord midfield in Dutch international Mats Wieffer, new signing Quinten Timber (brother of Arsenal’s Justin Timber) and the aforementioned Stengs.

Reo Hatate of Celtic shoots at goal. Celtic v Dundee, Cinch Scottish Premiership, Celtic Park, – 16 September 2023 Photo Robert Perry/Shutterstock

Two clubs steeped in history run in a very similar way, a healthy relationship between both fanbases is widely accepted by both sides. As tough a test as Rodgers Celtic as faced this season, but certainly not a test his side could not overcome.

The healthy relationship between both historic clubs will be put under strain come next Tuesday when the whistle blows in Rotterdam.

James French

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1 Comment

  1. Will be very interesting to see what role Rodgers gives to meada?
    Remains our most versatile player imo, and possibly not given enough credit for being so, yet offers so many potential options available in how the team could be set up?
    We know he can be used on the left of right wider attacking roles, but which side if we are going to play a front 3?
    Could well be our possible best option if we went with a front 2, as a partner to kyogo?
    Wouldn’t totally rule him out using him in a left wing back position either, if we were to go with the 3CB option with wing backs?
    Still think meada could do a better job in such a position than Taylor could provide imo.
    Wouldn’t like to call what Rodgers has in mind for the CL opener midweek, but certainly a few options available to himself in how he wants to set the team up.
    Think a strong counter attacking game would be our best potential option, so maybe a 3412 could be in the offering with meada as a potential wing back?
    Certainly will be interesting to see what Rodgers decides upon?
    Remain unconvinced that setting up the team in the same manner as SPFL will actually work for ourselves within the CL imo? Even moreso away from home as well